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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Wisdom(e, Wysdom(e, n. Also: wisdum(e, -am, visdome, vysdom, wisedom(e, wysedome, wyisdome, wosdom(e, -dum, wesdom(e, -dum, veisdome, woisdome, woosdome, wowsdome, (wysdown). [ME and e.m.E. wisdom (c1175), wissdom (Orm), wysdom (Manning), wysdom (1450-1530), wisdome (1563), OE wísdóm, MDu. wijsdom, ON vísdómr.]

1. a. Sound judgment; common sense; ability. b. Knowledge, learning, expertise. Freq. in collocation with other qualities.a., b. (1) a1400 Leg. S. ix 151.
His visdome the fendis arte Had ourcumyne in til al parte
1456 Hay II 26/21.
A knycht may never be hardy, na have the vertues that to knychthede suld pertene, bot he have wisdome in him
c1460 Regim. Princ. 34 (Fairf.).
How suld a man but knawlage keip iustice, Nor but wysdome to be a gouernoure?
1490 Irland Mir. I 12/3.
Wisdome … Aristoteles … sais that it is … knawlage that all the philosophouris has lauborit for … bot neuir ane come to the perfeccioune thar of
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Acts vii 22.
Moyses war lerit in al the wisdom of Egiptianis
1535 Stewart 9460.
That tha micht knaw thair wisdome in to weir, … Thair prattik als
1548 Douglas Corr. 171.
And lat George ly in plegge for him, as ȝour wysdom thinkis best
1570 Leslie 213.
Desse thought best to retire him selfe to Mussilbrugh, jugeing it moir wisdome so to doo, than to joperde him self and his company in the hazarde of a batle
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 109.
Your Majesteis wysdome considderis the same far mair then my wittis can comprehend
c1590 Fowler I 116/104.
Rather by contentioun than wisdome they did leir
1621-40 Melville Commonpl. Bk. 44.
Wisdome comes of syence and of lair
1644 Baillie II 149.
It was the wisdom of the Spanish junto, that [etc.]
a1651 Calderwood VII 38.
They thought it wisdom to misken, and to dryve the conference to this point
c1600-1633 Johnston MS Hist. in Mill Mediæv. Plays 193.
The first wisdome of Salomon
(b) c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 133.
Wisedom ay [vn]to thy will be junyt
1456 Hay I 248/23.
Gif a man had put fyre in my hous, suld I put fire in his, it war na wisedome
a1500 Henr. Fab. 60 (Ch.).
Esope … nocht wald Lak the wisedome of hie nor law estait
1562-3 Winȝet I 4/10.
Sen the godlye wysedome of thi maiestie hes be ane edict inhibit ony questioun … to be mouit in this action … to the end that seditioun be eschewit, we [etc.]
(c) c1530-40 Stewart in Bann. MS 88b/10.
Sen tho standis in so tendir aige That natur to thé ȝit wosdome denyis
1549 Corr. M. Lorraine 301.
Quhat profet … hais follouit throcht your lauburs to your lordship or your houis … your auin wosdum maye consider
a1585 Maitl. Q. 109/49.
Wald God sen scho sic other wosdome hes My inward mynd scho could persaue and ges
(d) 1545 St. P. Henry VIII V 414.
Veisdome, mixte vith forse, ville helpe miche in gret affares
15… Corr. M. Lorraine 379.
Ther thyngis beand proclemet at all mercat crossis sall bayth gyf ane ocatione to eschew the slawchter and prowocation of this same, hes your grace wesdum will conseder
(e) 1534 St. P. Henry VIII IV 667.
Ȝe wyll lawbor to hym as ȝowr wysdown thynkis expedyent
(2) 1375 Barb. xix 473.
He that ledis is worthi For awise worschip and wysdome [C. wisdome] To gouerne the empyr off Rome
c1405 Cotton Vespasian MS F VII 86a.
Ȝoure hee wisdam discretion manheide & ful honorable leaute
c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 50.
Wisedome, largesse, estate, and connyng sure In euery poynt so guydit hir mesure
1456 Hay II 23/2.
Till jugement of caus pertenis wele wisdome and discrecioun of clergy to knaw the lawis
1460 Hay Alex. 552.
Alexander was warni[s]t mychtilie In wit wisdome and science of clergie
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 275.
Thai pris mar wysdome & gudnes, Na al the gold that is or was
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 159.
God gewys to the wysman wyt & visdome
a1508 Want of Wyse Men 30 (Bann.).
Prudens and wisdome ar baneist our all brinkis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 110/62.
Julius in jupert, in wisdom and expence: Most fortunable chiftane, bothe in yhouth and eild
1521 Liber Melros 630.
And sall efter our wnderstanding knawlegis and wisdom egalie without oldyr favour or feid minister justice
c1500-50 Brevis Cronica 332.
Alexander the First … was oft invadit be conspiratioun of his inymeis, bot he dantit thame be singular manheid and wisdome
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5089.
Considdryng none auctoritie, Ryches, wysedome, nor dignitie
1560 Rolland Seven S. 639.
The greit Bischop was thair With all his clerkis of greit wisdome and lair
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 49.
Be the diligence and wisdome of the regent the cuntre wes brocht to sum stay
1570 Leslie 13.
Wisdome and ingine
1603 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 51.
Ȝour maiesties wisdome and foirsicht, kyithed heirtofoir in the lyke maters
(b) ?1555 Corr. M. Lorraine 402.
Forder referis to your grace wesdom and gwidnes; quhom I pray the aver levand Lord to preserve
1600-1610 Melvill 36.
I haid offerit to me all guid occasion of godlines, lerning and wesdome
1600-1610 Melvill 180.
Yie may, out of the word of God … draw … guid knawlage, wesdome, and wholsome counsall
(c) 1562-3 Winȝet I 97/5.
This grete humilitie, gentrice, and singular humanitie iunit with wisdume of sik excellent ȝour natiue souerane
1562-3 Winȝet II 9/14.
Ȝour eruditioun in the Latin toung, is sik a mirrour of al godlines, constance, and continence, integritie, wisdum, and of al hæroical vertewis
(d) 1572 Lochwinnoch Par. 97.
The fidelitie, wosdome and gude conduct of his traist cousing
1581–2 Reg. Privy C. III 458.
The wosdome, honestie, gravitie, and gude jugement of his weilbelovit Maister James Halyburtoun
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. viii 30.
Wosdome, vertue, beutie rair, In thé haue all remaining
1631 Justiciary Cases I 189.
Gritter woosdome calmenes and moderatioun
(e) 1603 Reg. Privy C. VI 549.
By vertew of his pouer, woisdome, and godlie courage
(f) 1641 Acts V (1817) 488/1.
The wowsdome and fatherlie cair of our dreid soverane

c. Wisdom as a quality of God. c1400 Troy-bk. i 531.
The lestand God … That in Hys wisdome and Hys sone Of hevinly thingis has wroutht & done
c1460 Thewis Wysmen 294.
Vysdom proferis Hym til al men, Bot ful few of vs can that ken
1490 Irland Mir. I 14/14, 15.
In the first [book] sall be schawin the hevinly wisdome and doctrine of Jhesu the sone of God and wisdome of the fadere … that He teichit His apostilis & discipulis and thai haue teichit ws
1533 Gau 30/21.
God hes al tyme hwyd the richt visdome … and schawis it to thayme that ar simpil and law
1562-3 Winȝet I 125/26.
1587-99 Hume 13/59.
To what end Thy wisedome marks To catiues is vnknawin

d. A piece of knowledge. Also pl., collective wisdom. 1535 Stewart 3820.
Better is ane wisdome that is bocht Than other tua that gotten ar for nocht … we befoir sic wisdome bocht full deir, My counsall is thairfoir to ws it heir
pl. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 541.
Than sall I do the same thing that ȝe wald … Into this case lat ȝour wisdomes be sene

e. transf. Appar. profit. 1534–5 Ayr B. Acc. 72.
[The kirk gear] [The] bred sylvir [or collections, £7 6 s. 7 d.] … [For the] wisdome [of a boat of hides, 15 s.]

2. pl.With possess.Used as a title of respect for members of a public body, etc. in a position of authority. 1505 Creswell Royal Coll. Surgeons Edinb. 2.
Itt is weill knawin till all your wisdomes quhow thatt we uphald ane altar
1560 St. A. Kirk S. 37.
Besiekand your nobilitie and wysedomes … to pronunce … me to be divorced
1564 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I 91.
That the letill and small gude gold and sylwer that restis is and will be transportit without your grace and wosdomis put ordour thairto
1575 Misc. Maitl. C. I 118.
Thai … hes remittit the caus unto thair wisdomes
1591 Dundee B. Laws 512.
The acceptatioun of this our present missive letteir wnto ȝour wisdomis is beweling … this opressit … present estait of craift
1597 Aberd. Council Lett. I 70.
Forsamekill as it is nocht onknawin unto your wesdomes the commissioun [etc.]
1603 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 115/2.
Wnto ȝour godlie wisdomes of the presbiterie of Edinburgh
1606 Inverness Rec. II 48.
Theirfoir desyris ȝour wyisdomes remeid of law and justice
a1650 Row xli.
Mr. John Row, master of the grammar school at Perth, declaring that before now he was present at the council desiring the contract betwixt their wisdoms and him with advice of the session to be perfected
1651 Strathbogie Presb. 182.
Your wisdomes of the presbyterie of Strabogie

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"Wisdom n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2023 <>



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